In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Juvenile Delinquency

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Theoretical Foundations
  • Families and Delinquency
  • Schools and Delinquency
  • Peers and Delinquency
  • Communities and Delinquency
  • Individual Factors and Delinquency
  • Demographic Differences in Delinquency
  • Anti-Delinquency Programs and Policies

Criminology Juvenile Delinquency
Terrance J. Taylor
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 October 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0026


Juvenile delinquency has received substantial recognition as a pressing social problem. What is encompassed by the term “juvenile delinquency,” however, is quite broad. Thus, various texts on “juvenile delinquency” may often focus on different topical issues. For example, some may examine serious and persistent youth violence, while others may focus on programs designed to prevent youth from engaging in more benign, everyday disorderly activities. In addition to general overviews and theoretical foundations of juvenile delinquency, the following readings are organized into key domains of risk or protective factors associated with delinquency. Specifically, topical areas include family, schools, peers, and community factors. Additionally, race, ethnicity, and delinquency are intertwined (although not always in the way that people expect). Finally, efforts to prevent and respond to juvenile delinquency are examined.

General Overviews

A number of excellent texts providing overviews of juvenile delinquency as a social problem exist. Some of these—for example, Shoemaker 2005—focus on theoretical approaches for understanding the etiology of delinquency; others, such as Snyder and Sickmund 2006, are purely descriptive, while still others, such as Howell 2003, provide an important link between theory and policy. Consistent with a perception of an emergent “youth violence epidemic” and an emphasis on targeting serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offenders during the late 1990s and early 2000s, a number of relevant works emerged during this period. Thus, Howell, et al. 1995 and Loeber and Farrington 1998 provide excellent entrees into these areas. Similarly, a concern about increasing delinquency among very young offenders (those younger than twelve years old) provides the context for Loeber and Farrington 2001. Tonry and Moore 1998 is a compilation of essays on youth-violence research and policy written by top scholars, providing an excellent introduction to the topic. Regardless of their emphases or scope, the following texts provide thorough coverage for those interested in learning more about juvenile delinquency.

  • Howell, James C. 2003. Preventing and reducing juvenile delinquency: A comprehensive framework. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

    An excellent book examining history, trends, and anti-delinquency programs. Packed with detailed coverage of the issues, couched within the “Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Comprehensive Strategy,” this book is a must-read for undergraduate and graduate students, but also very useful for policymakers.

  • Howell, James C., Barry Krisberg, J. David Hawkins, and John J. Wilson, eds. 1995. Serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offenders: A sourcebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

    A compilation of research studies examining serious, chronic, and violent juvenile offenders. Examines patterns and trends, risk factors, and strategies associated with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Comprehensive Strategy for dealing with these youth.

  • Loeber, Rolf, and David P. Farrington, eds. 1998. Serious and violent juvenile offenders: Risk factors and successful interventions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

    Another excellent compilation of studies associated with serious and violent juvenile offenders. Provides detailed information about the issue and ways in which society responds.

  • Loeber, Rolf, and David P. Farrington, eds. 2001. Child delinquents: Development, intervention, and service needs. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

    A comprehensive introduction to research on young delinquents. Coverage of topics ranges from known risk factors to prevention and intervention programs aimed at child delinquents.

  • Shoemaker, Donald J. 2005. Theories of delinquency: An examination of explanations of delinquent behavior. 5th ed. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    A very good undergraduate- or graduate-level text providing a comprehensive introduction to theories of juvenile delinquency.

  • Snyder, Howard N., and Melissa Sickmund. 2006. Juvenile offenders and victims: 2006 national report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

    A publication from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention providing facts and figures about American juvenile offending and victimization. The definitive government source for recent figures. Available online.

  • Tonry, Michael, and Mark H. Moore. 1998. Crime and justice: A review of research. Vol. 24, Youth violence. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

    A collection of essays from the leaders in the field. This volume focuses specifically on the problem of youth violence.

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